Paris Permenter & John Bigley's
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Friday, November 30, 2007

POTD: Beach in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

If you haven't visited Philipsburg, Sint Maarten in a few years, you're in for a surprise. The city has installed a nice boardwalk along its improved beachfront and will soon extend the beachfront beyond the foot of town to Sonesta Great Bay. The beachfront, formerly the back of the businesses that faced Front Street, is now lined with beach bars and vendors offering chair and umbrella rentals for the day. The beach isn't as good as some others on the island such as Orient Beach or Cupecoy, but is very convenient for families who would like to explore (or shop) Philipsburg then cool off with a few hours at the beach.


Abby Cadabby Arrives at Beaches Resorts

The popular fairy muppet, Abby Cadabby, has made her debut at all four Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos this month. Joining the rest of the Beaches Resorts’ Sesame Street gang, which includes Elmo, Zoe, Grover, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie, Abby will participate in the pirate-themed Treasure Caravan parade at Beaches Turks & Caicos and join the rest of her furry friends during the Sesame Street parades at all four resort locations. Abby will also perform her new show, “Magic in Me,” during Beaches Resorts’ exclusive Sesame Street stage shows.

“The response to Abby Cadabby has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Shawn DaCosta, Director of Resort Product for Beaches Resorts. “Abby is the first major female muppet to be introduced to Sesame Street in more than a decade. The fact that our guests have personal access to her is huge. It’s like vacationing with your favorite celebrity. They’re absolutely thrilled and so are we.”

To celebrate her debut and add a little magic to the holiday season, Beaches Resorts is now offering travelers up to 45 percent off regular rack rates for travel between November 2007 and January 2008. Black out dates apply.

Beaches Resorts is a sponsor of Sesame Street, the award winning pre-school series created by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization.

For more information:
• call your travel agent or 1-800-BEACHES
• visit www.beaches.com

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

POTD: St. Croix's The Buccaneer

The Buccaneer, located on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, has been a family favorite for over 60 years, and it's a popular multi-generational getaway thanks to its long history. Along with the main house (above) which includes guest rooms as well as many public areas, newer accommodations at the water's edge are also popular with families. The resort offers an excellent tennis program and golf while kids 2-12 can take part in the complimentary kids' program.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

POTD: Walk to Fort Louis, Marigot, St. Martin

It's a long walk up the hill to Fort Louis in Marigot, St. Martin but one well worth the climb. A stroll past a residential neighborhood brings you up to the fort with is open as a park now and offers an unobstructed view of the city, the sea, and on to neighboring Anguilla. Kids enjoy a look at the cannons at the hilltop. Bring water for your walk up the hill; you won't find facilities selling water once you reach the summit.

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Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort Offers Winter Savings

A lot of special packages we see in the Caribbean go through mid-December but we've received a package from St. Thomas's Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa that gives you savings through April 30, 2008!

The Wyndham® Sugar Bay Resort & Spa in St. Thomas offers Red Hot Savings for a “Caribbean warm-up experience” featuring discounts of up to 25 percent on room rates for values as low as $140 per night, based on double occupancy and a three-night minimum stay.

What It Includes: All-inclusive rates that include elaborate breakfast and lunch buffets in the resort’s three restaurants, a la carte dining at the Manor House, tropical drinks and nightly themed dinners with live entertainment such as calypso music and fire eating, as well as non-motorized water sports from kayaking to windsurfing, are available starting at $341 per night, based on double occupancy. One child per adult may stay, eat and play at no extra charge.

For no extra charge, guests are invited to enjoy three connected pools, daily scuba clinics, snorkeling directly off the beach, tennis at six courts, workouts in a state-of-the-art fitness center, aqua aerobics and step classes. The resort also offers complimentary weekly manager’s receptions and rum-tasting events.

Especially for Families: The complimentary Grotto Grove Kids Klub offers iguana feedings and T-shirt painting. Family movies are shown nightly at no extra charge.

Special Benefit: American travelers don't need a passport for travel in the US Virgin Islands.

Booking: The special may be booked by calling Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort at (340) 777-7100 or a preferred travel partner.


Monday, November 26, 2007

POTD: Ferry Terminal, Marigot, St. Martin

Island hopping is easy in St. Martin; your family can hop a ferry from Marigot to Anguilla at this terminal located adjacent to the market. The ride takes under half an hour and you can just walk up and buy your ticket...but don't forget your passports!

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Friday, November 23, 2007

POTD: Conch Farm, Turks and Caicos

Wonder where all the conch for those conch fritters comes from? Some of it just might be from the Conch Farm in Providenciales, better known as Provo. This island in the Turks and Caicos is home to the world's only conch farm, a place you can visit to learn about the life cycle of the Queen Conch. The farm is open for tours Monday through Saturday.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

POTD: Little Cayman

Little Cayman, the smallest of the three Cayman Islands, makes a laid back getaway for families thanks to its low population and low visitor count. Your family can grab a bike and pedal around the small island...but keep an eye out for iguanas...they have the right of way!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

POTD: Ardastra Gardens, Nassau, Bahamas

On the island of New Providence just outside Nassau, Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Center is home to nearly 300 animals and birds, many from the Caribbean. The Marching Flamingos have long been the star of the show at Ardastra and they perform in shows three times per day.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

POTD: Steel Pan in Trinidad's Carnival

Young steel pan musicians ride through the streets of Port of Spain, Trinidad during the annual pre-Lenten Carnival celebrations, the largest in the Caribbean.

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St. Lucia's Coco Palm Offers Family Adventure Package

Here's a new package that just came across our desk: the “Coco Family Island Adventure” package at St. Lucia's Coco Palm hotel. Perfect for active families, the package includes fun at the resort as well as activities out on the beautiful island.

The Package: The “Coco Family Adventure” package includes:

-Six days / five nights in a Coco Palm Pool View Family Suite (two bedrooms / two bathrooms)
-A Family Beach Pass including all non-motorized water sport activities, towels, beach chair and umbrella
-A 1/2 day Jungle Safari through the lush rainforest of St. Lucia
-Full-day Jeep rental to explore the island
-A water taxi out to historic Pigeon Point to hike the Fort Rodney Trail
-Daily breakfast at Ti Bananne restaurant

Price: Rates start at $2,570 for a family of four people, and Package includes tax and service charges. Subject to availability and blackout dates apply. Kids 12 and under stay free.

Dates: The Coco Family Adventure Package is offered from now until March 31, 2008.

To book the “Coco Family Adventure” package:
• call 866-588-5980
• email us-reservations@coco-resorts.com

For More Information:
• visit www.coco-resorts.com


Friday, November 16, 2007

POTD: Capt. Hodges Playground, Sint Maarten

Whether you're coming in on a water taxi from one of the cruise ships or just strolling around Philipsburg during your resort stay in Sint Maarten, here's a good family stop: Captain Hodges Playground. Located on the boardwalk in Philipsburg, this playground is open Sunday through Thursday 10am - 8pm and Friday and Saturday 10am - 10pm. It's open for use by families with children ages 2-12.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

POTD: Largest Playground in Sint Maarten

Here's a little trivia question for you family travelers: where's the largest playground in St. Martin/Sint Maarten? Give up? It's at the Sint Maarten Park, the zoo just minutes from Philipsburg (on the Dutch side). This zoo is fairly small but very family-friendly with zero crowds, plenty of shade, wide trails, and a great gift shop.

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Westin St. John Winter Dive-In Film Festival Announced

Here's a unique and fun package for the family: this December, the Westin St. John Resort & Villas is introducting the first annual Westin St. John Winter Dive-In Film Festival. This tropical adaptation of the traditional Polar Bear Dive will welcome in the winter season--rather than taking a freezing dip, you are invited to dive into the largest pool in the US Virgin Islands, bask in the Caribbean sun and watch actors freeze on screen.

Dates: The first annual Westin St. John Winter Dive-In Film Festival will begin on December 2, 2007. Shows will be available twice a week on Sunday and Wednesday nights at 7:30 pm.

Movies: There will be a variety of movies available for viewing such as “Happy Feet,” “March of the Penguins,” “Cool Runners,” “101 Dalmatians,” the “Harry Potter” series and others.

Rates: December rates at The Westin St. John Resort & Villas start at $569 per night.

For more information:
• call 1-888-627-7206
• visit www.westin.com/stjohn


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

POTC: Abaco's Shallow Waters

In the clear, shallow waters surrounding Abaco, it's easy to see the origin for the name Bahamas. "Baha Mar" or "shallow water" was an appropriate description for these islands which are surrounded by shallow water perfect for family swimming.

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New Spa Director for Rosewood Little Dix Bay

On Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, Rosewood Little Dix Bay was one of the first resorts we visited in the Caribbean and it's still a family favorite. An excellent (and complimentary) kids' program makes it a top choice for many families; we wanted to pass along news about the spa and its new director:


Accomplished spa manager and respected consultant Glen Ross has been tapped to oversee the operation of the luxurious new Spa at Little Dix Bay. An idyllic retreat, it is perched high on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean Sea and the lush tropical gardens of legendary resort on Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. Ross was most recently Spa Director at another renowned Caribbean resort, Sandy Lane in Barbados.

Ross’s experience extends well beyond the islands, however. Martein van Wagenberg, Managing Director, calls Ross’s appointment “a perfect match” for Little Dix Bay. “Hands-down, spas have emerged as the number-one guest amenity and Glen’s diverse Asian and Caribbean blend of experiences will be invaluable as we establish Sense among the region’s most sought-after spas,” he says.

With 14 years of experience ranging from spa conceptualization and design to day-to-day operation, Ross is considered one of the industry’s most adept managers. “At Little Dix Bay, we are focusing on treatments that really take guests back to a place of peacefulness and calm. We’ll be adding more indigenous treatments using local products and creating additional spa facilities that take full advantage of the resort’s inspiring oceanside location. With spectacular views of Sir Drake Channel and the islands, sailboats drifting by and soothing breezes off the ocean, can you imagine a more serene setting?,” Ross says.

Prior to arriving on Caribbean shores, Ross was Group Director of Spa for Langham Hotels International in Hong Kong (2004 – 2006), where he formulated the direction and implementation of the company’s Chuan spa brand, which paired modern Chinese design and architecture with treatments based on traditional Chinese medicine. In this position, Ross was responsible for the overall spa performance across all Langham resorts, as well as the development of new spas in London, Boston, Auckland and Hong Kong.

From 2001 to 2004, he was Resort Director for Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s Macau resort, tasked with the operation of the spa, health club and innovative corporate team-building facility. Prior to this, Ross helped open the five-star Kanuhura Beach & Spa Resort in the Maldives, serving as Director of Spa & Recreation and Acting General Manager (1999 – 2000) charged with development of the spa’s concept, design and philosophy. A spa and leisure consultant both independently and for US-based Collier & Collier Spa Consultancy, Ross’s lifelong interest in Asia inspired his move to Phuket, Thailand in 1994 where, as Group Spa Operations Manager for Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, he opened five Banyan Tree spas over a three-year period.

An avid endurance athlete, Ross recently moved on from triathlons to long distance running. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports and Environmental Studies and a Masters degree in Leisure Management at Sheffield University in Sheffield, England.

Spa at Little Dix Bay
A postcard Caribbean seaside setting distinguishes the new Spa. The latest addition to renowned Little Dix Bay, the spa features 360-degree views of the sea. Charming stone footpaths meander through three acres of lush tropical gardens, guiding the way to the spa’s separate cliff-side beach, two-tiered infinity pool, outdoor Yoga platform, and nine treatments cottages (including a couple’s suite) and spa suite which has an ocean-facing terrace.

About Rosewood Little Dix Bay

Located on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, Rosewood Little Dix Bay offers discerning clientele an arms-length respite from day-to-day stresses amidst lush foliage, a half-mile crescent-shaped beach, a colorful barrier reef, and beautiful walking trails. Guests can choose from a wealth of elegant villas and guest rooms with recently renovated bathrooms and outdoor rain showers, including hexagonal cottages and two- and three-bedroom villas nestled along gorgeous gardens and shaded footpaths. The timeless resort's three dining venues specialize in fresh Caribbean cuisine, including the open-air Pavilion, the intimate Sugar Mill, and the Beach Grill, which serves light-fare on the white sands. The Spa at Little Dix Bay offers the finest in beauty and recuperative programs in a dramatic setting, with treatments that utilize indigenous botanicals plucked right from the resort grounds. New friends and experiences await kids at the Children's Grove. Complimentary services include a wide array of watersports, use of the on-site fitness center and tennis courts, and more.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

POTD: Amber Jewelry in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

We're always on the lookout for true souvenirs from destinations...ones that are made right on the island. Here's one of the most unique souvenirs in the Caribbean: amber. This fossilized sap is mined in the Dominican Republic and sold all over the country. Larger pieces and ones with "inclusions" (remember the mosquito in Jurassic Park?) can be pricey but we've bought fun bracelets and small earrings for under $10; we even got a small piece with a gnat encapsulated in the sap for just a few dollars more.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

POTD: Blackbeard in St. Thomas

Ahoy, matey! Several pirate statues--in fact, the world's largest collection of bronze pirate statues--is found on St. Thomas at Blackbeard's Tower. This historic site includes a stone tower built in the 1700s by the Danish.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

POTD: Conch House, Grand Cayman

Driving tours of Grand Cayman usually pull over for a quick look at the Conch House, a house that's, well, bricked with conch shells!

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

POTD: St. Croix's Fort Christiansvaern

Built in the 1770s to protect the harbor of Christiansted in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, Fort Christiansvaern is now administered by the US National Park Service. Kids enjoy the historic fort which was built during Danish occupation; it's located literally steps from the shopping area in Christiansted so it makes an easy stop. The grounds are a great place to have a picnic lunch and you can then take a self-guided tour of the fort.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Just Back from Sint Maarten

We just returned from five days in Sint Maarten! We'll be bringing you updates from the island where we enjoyed some beautiful weather (luckily just missing the rain that had been caused during the development of Hurricane Noel). We spent two nights at Sonesta Great Bay, a property we'd visited before it became a Sonesta a year ago; in fact, we were on hand for the cutting of the one-year celebration cake.

The cake cutting was followed by a special anniversary party at poolside:

Sonesta Great Bay has a wonderful location on a big stretch of beach that extends all the way into Philipsburg; just a few minutes from Great Bay there's a boardwalk to make strolls (even those with strollers) into town easy. We spent a morning walking around Philipsburg then returned for a snorkel trip just minutes from the resort.

After two nights at Sonesta Great Bay, we moved to Sonesta Maho, located near the airport. We stayed on the eighth floor, one of the renovated floors at the resort; our room had teak furniture and a great view of the pool and the sea beyond.

We'll be bringing you a full review of all our stops in Sint Maarten...stay tuned!


POTD: Watersports at Orient Beach

In St. Martin, Orient Beach is always one of the busiest beaches in the Caribbean, right up there with Jamaica's Negril Beach and Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach. You'll find watersports of every description here: jetskis, Hobie cats, windsurfers, and more. The no-hassle beach makes it easy to walk from vendor to vendor and compare prices.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

POTD: Sint Maarten Park

Birds from throughout the Caribbean, Central America and even parts of South America are found at the Sint Maarten Park, a zoo near Philipsburg.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

POTD: Caiman at Sint Maarten Park

This caiman catches some sun at the Sint Maarten Park, a zoo that features many Caribbean animals, birds and reptiles. The caiman, which looks like a small crocodile, is found on many islands (and was the namesake for the Cayman Islands).

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

DR Resort Areas Report No Damage from Noel

We've just returned from Sint Maarten where the weather was beautiful...but we kept a close eye on the weather as Tropical Storm Noel headed over the Dominican Republic and Haiti before heading north. Heavy rains caused death and damage in the DR but we've just received this report on conditions at the resort areas:

Dominican Republic Tourist Areas Sustained No Damage Due to Tropical Storm Noel

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – According to a recent announcement by the Dominican Republic (DR) Ministry of Tourism, the main tourist areas in the country were not damaged by Tropical Storm Noel. It has been reported that all hotel complexes are functioning normally and no foreign tourists were affected.

The DR Ministry of Tourism states that no damages to hotel complexes have been reported in any of the major tourism areas of Bávaro, Bayahibe, La Romana, Punta Cana, Las Terrenas, Samaná, Cabarete, Sosúa, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, Juan Dolio, Boca Chica, Constanza or Jarabacoa. “The hotel occupancy in the touristic areas of the country remains at 100 percent, and at 75 percent in the mountainous tourism region,” stated Minister of Tourism Felix Jimenez. “Despite the damages that resulted from Tropical Storm Noel on a national level, all tourism infrastructure development will continue as planned,” said Jimenez. Furthermore, the DR Ministry of Tourism announced that all international flights resumed Monday afternoon, which allowed hotels to continue honoring vacation packages booked for this timeframe.

A meteorology report from The National Direction of Meteorology states that the provinces of La Romana, La Altagracia and Samaná were not confronted by Tropical Storm Noel. The precipitation that this region experienced remained in the normal zone; therefore, these provinces were not considered a part of the flood alert area.


Jamaica Adding Waterpark Near Ocho Rios

Jamaica will be the home of a new waterpark in May 2008. Mystic Mountain will be located near Ocho Rios and will offer a waterpark, bobsled coaster ride, an aerial tramway canopy tour, a Jamaican athletic heritage museum, and more. We'll keep you posted on this new attraction as we get more details!


Friday, November 02, 2007

POTD: Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia

Rooms at the beautiful Anse Chastanet resort overlook the two Piton mountains that are symbols of St. Lucia. The beach here has largely black sand, reminders of the volcanic activity that formed much of the island. The volcano's sulfuric deposits can also be credited for the huge amount of sea life found just offshore; the rich water is filled with corals which attract a variety of fish species.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

POTD: Christopher Columbus Statue, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

A statue of Christopher Columbus stands in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. The island claims to be the final resting spot of the early explorer but Spain also believes it possesses the remains of Columbus.

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